Putting Your Toddler's Bedtime Demands on Hold
If your tot runs over your rules like a steamroller, try this little technique (another twist on patience-stretching) to put her unreasonable demands “on hold.”
First, spend a week practicing patience-stretching 5 times a day and using white noise for all sleep. Once your tot gets used to all this, you’re ready to put her unreasonable demands “on-hold.”
When your sleepy tyke toddles up to the night gate in her PJs and pleads for water, come immediately and say, “Okay, sweetheart, Mommy’s here, Mommy’s here.” Listen to her request and say “Sure, honey, sure.” But then raise one finger (as if you just remembered something important) and exclaim, “Wait! Wait! I forgot something! I’ll be back...really fast!” And tell her to cuddle her lovey until you come back. (She’ll be familiar with all this from her experiences with patience-stretching during the day.)
Hurry out of view for 5 seconds. Then, return and innocently ask, “Honey, I’m so sorry I forgot––what do you want?” Or say, “Oh darn! Silly Mommy! I forgot the water! I’m sorry, honey. I’ll be back in just a sec!” Then leave for 10 seconds, but this time actually get it for her.
The next time she summons you, do the “Wait! Wait!” routine again––but this time, disappear for 15 seconds. When you return, ask what she wants, but then do the routine again, and return 30 seconds later with the water. Over a few days, you can build the waiting period up to 1 and then 2 minutes. Eventually, your tot will discover that asking for things has turned into a pretty boring, no-fun game.
(Your little pup may get tired and fall asleep on the floor while she’s waiting for your return. So, leave a pillow and blanket on the floor by the door gate in case she chooses to fall asleep there instead of in bed.)
If your sweetie gets impatient and starts yelling, wait 5 seconds, then return and acknowledge her frustration (in your best Toddler-ese). Then repeat your “Wait! Wait!” routine and disappear for another 15 seconds.